A massive explosion has rocked Lebanon‘s capital, Beirut on Tuesday, destroying buildings and killing a large number of people.
The country’s health minister, Hamad Hasan, said there was a large number of wounded in a blast at the city’s port, according to local broadcaster LBC.
The powerful blast shook several parts of Beirut, sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky.
Initial reports suggests that the explosion took place in Beirut‘s port area, causing wide scale destruction and shattered windows miles away.
According to some local TV stations, the blast was at Beirut‘s port inside an area where firecrackers were stored, however as at press time the cause of the blast was unknown.
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut said;
I was kilometres away; the glass broke everywhere around me. The explosion was felt across the city. There is chaos in the streets.
A UN tribunal is due to issue its verdict in the trial of four suspects in the murder by car bomb of Lebanon business tycoon Rafic Baha El Deen Al Hariri.
All four are members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, which has consistently denied any role in Hariri’s death. They are being tried in absentia and the verdict is due on Friday.
The blast comes at a time where Lebanon is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades, with its currency losing more than 80% of its value and unemployment soaring, pushing millions of people into poverty.
The crisis began last year, before the coronavirus pandemic hit: Lebanon has long relied on reserves of foreign currency, particularly the U.S. dollar, for essential imports, but political leaders and banks failed to maintain that stock or to develop the economy to produce exports and earn money.
The virus-related global economic slowdown further hurt Lebanon’s economy and slashed inflows of money from Lebanese working abroad who suddenly faced reduced circumstances.
See photos and videos of the explosion below;
Pray for Beirut. Lebanon. pic.twitter.com/mdgmHhKKR3
— Muhammad Smiry 🇵🇸 (@MuhammadSmiry) August 4, 2020
— Mahi khan (@maahi__khan) August 4, 2020
Massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon
Reportedly in the port area. Sound heard from miles away.
Report: “Explosion in warehouse 12 in Beirut port, burned down during explosion of fireworks inside.”
— Dr. Lucas (@Laaask2) August 4, 2020